Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team continue to advance in the playoffs for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series title.
The group put together a strong 12-lap run, with Elliott posting the second-best average (9.00) and points (121) in the three-race round behind teammate William Byron. He also collected the most stage points (37) in those races. In Sunday’s ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott led 15 laps, took his second stage win of the season and finished second in the race with 42 points. Elliott recovered from a bad caution when he shorted in the pits at the end of the second lap and suffered a flat tire on the final stage to finish ninth. “We’ve all been working hard and all trying to get better,” said skipper Alan Gustafson. “It’s a testament to hard work. You never want to put the cart before the horse, but hard work always pays off. You just know it’s going to hit and you just have to keep working until it hits.
It’s done and now you’re starting again see part of this payment. Probably not at the level we want without a win, but certainly the consistency of the performance of the car, the performance on the pit road and everything that happens during a race weekend. We just have to deal with it. When we do that, good things happen.” Those performances continue Elliott’s strong run that dates back to the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway. In those seven races, he has one top ten finish and six top ten finishes, with no 11th place finishes. Focusing solely on playoff races, he is tied with Byron for the most top-10 finishes (five), tied for second with teammate Kyle Larson in points (226) and second in average (8.00).
The 27-year-old driver also has the fifth best average running position of the season (10.11). Through 32 races, the No. 9 pit crew has the ninth fastest average four-tire pit stop at 11.303 seconds. “I’ve said it many times, no matter how many weeks we’ve done it, I don’t feel the difference,” Elliott said of how he approaches his company to make the owner’s playoffs. manager’s final. . “My approach every week has been the same as being part of the show from a manager’s perspective. It’s just not that different.” Owners have a lot at stake in teams. This is a really big deal.
“Between Josh (Berry), Jordan (Taylor) and Corey (LaJoie) and myself, we got the car on the owners’ side. It’s a meaningful thing. I was just as motivated to do it as I would have been if I had gone on the owners’ side. driver We have enjoyed the challenge of the first few weeks and hope to continue with the rounds. This is a good opportunity and there is still a lot of competition this year. We’d like to continue to develop and get back into the mix.” Entering the opening lap of the eighth round at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Elliott is eighth in the owners’ points standings with 4,002 points. That leaves them 19 points clear of the relegation zone. The owner’s championship is very important for the teams. This championship is where teams are paid for their victories.
This is not the first time a team has made the playoffs without a driver. Last year, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team captured the championship in four owners despite Larson being eliminated from the drivers’ playoffs with 12 laps to go. Elliott won the championship in the championship of the 4 drivers, but the 9 team did not make it to the side of the owner. “We’ve been through it as a company,” Elliott told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last week.
“It’s unique and it’s so hard to talk about because a lot of people don’t really understand how it works. Both the business aspect of it and what’s going on there.” Well. 9 team looking to win in Las Vegas. In 12 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Elliott has three top-five finishes (including a track-best finish in a 2021 playoff race) and five top-10s. He also collected three stage wins in Nevada. Because of the injury, Elliott didn’t drive in the spring – Berry did. Gustafson has yet to win in Las Vegas, but has two second-place finishes, six top-fives and a top-10 in 24 Cup Series starts. One of those runner-up finishes came with Elliott, while the others came in Kyle Busch’s first series start at the facility.
The Round of 16 also includes races at Homestead-Miami Speedway (where Gustafson won with Jeff Gordon in 2012) and Martinsville Speedway (where the skipper has three wins – two with Gordon in 2013 and 2015 and one with Elliott in 2020). “This round is the hardest,” Gustafson said. “It’s hard. The final cars come out on top and it’s hard to get points from people because every stage and every race you have to get where you need to be, get to the top four.
This is fun, That’s what you want to do. I enjoy the challenge. – I have the feeling that last year was a bit different (in the driver and owner finals). We had a huge point lead and we had a skid. This year we have a points deficit and a better performance. I’d take it one over the other